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Posts Tagged ‘The Big Bopper’

RIP, Tommy Allsup (January 11, 2017) Rockabilly & Western Swing Great

Posted by themusicsover on January 11, 2017

Tommy Allsup
November 24, 1931 – January 11, 2017

Photo by Eric Shaiman

Tommy Allsup was an influential rockabilly and western swing guitarist, but he was also one of the luckiest people in all of popular music.  While on tour with  Ritchie Valens, Buddy Holly and JP “The Big Bopper” Richardson in February of 1959 – he was in Holly’s band – Allsup was on the “losing” end of the infamous coin toss that gave his seat up to Valens who was killed with the others when the plane crashed. After Holly’s death, Allsup went to work for Liberty Records where he produced records by Willie Nelson and Tex Williams, among others. Although he was most famous for his playing on Holly’s records, Allsup also recorded with the likes of Bob Wills,  The Ventures, Kenny Rogers, The Everly Brothers, and Roy Orbison.  Tommy Allsup was 85 when he died on January 11, 2017.  Cause of death was not immediately released.

Thanks to Harold Lepidus for the assist.

 

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Died On This Date (March 4, 2011) Johnny Preston / Had Hit With “Running Bear”

Posted by themusicsover on March 4, 2011

Johnny Preston (born Johnny Courville)
August 18, 1939 – March 4, 2011

Johnny Preston was a rock ‘n roll pioneer who is perhaps best remembered for is 1960 #1 hit, “Running Bear.”  Preston was still in his teens when he and his band caught the attention of JP “The Big Bopper” Richardson at a local club.  Richardson was so impressed by the singer, that he gave Preston a tune he had penned to record.  That song was “Dancing Bear,” and when they put it to record, it included Richardson and future country icon, George Jones, on backing vocals.  The record was a huge hit, reaching #1 on both the U.S. and U.K. charts.  Unfortunately, Richardson never saw its success since it was released shortly after he perished in the plane crash that also took the lives of Buddy Holly and Ritchie Valens.   Preston released a handful of other charting singles over the next couple of years, but none came close to the success of “Dancing Bear.”  He did however, continue to perform well into the 2000s and was once recognized by the Rockabilly Hall of Fame as a pioneer of the genre.  Johnny Preston died of heart failure on March 4, 2011.  He was 71.

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Johnny Preston

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Died On This Date (February 13, 2002) Waylon Jennings / Country Music Icon

Posted by themusicsover on February 13, 2010

Waylon Jennings
June 15, 1937 – February 13, 2002

waylon-jenningsWaylon Jennings was a hugely influential country singer, songwriter and musician who was one of the pioneers of the genre’s “outlaw” movement of the ’70s.  Jennings learned to play the guitar and formed his own band before he even hit his teen years.  One of Jennings’ first jobs in music was as a disc jockey at a local Texas radio station.  It was there that he met an up-and-coming rockabilly singer named Buddy Holly.  Before long, Jennings was playing bass in Holly’s band.  On February 3, 1959, Jennings career path suffered a tragic setback when Holly, J.P. “The Big Bopper” Richardson, and Ritchie Valens all perished in a plane crash while they were on tour of the Midwest.  The accident, which has been memorialized as “the day the music died,” almost claimed Jennings’ life as well.  At the last minute Jennings gave up his seat to Richardson who hadn’t been feeling well.  As the musicians were boarding the plane, Holly quipped to Jennings, “I hope your ‘ol bus freezes up.”  Jennings’ retort, “Well, I hope your ‘ol plane crashes” haunted him for the rest of his life.   Jennings took a hiatus from performing and moved to Arizona where he went back to DJ’ing.  By the mid ’60s, he was making music again.     As he began building a following, Jennings met resistance from the Nashville music community for in part, not using the usual session players for his records.  Jennings was adamant that he would only use his traveling band in the studio.  And the rock edge to his music fell outside what was perceived as the “Nashville Sound,” a more slick country-pop.  This “outlaw” movement began to take hold as fellow country men like Willie Nelson, Billy Joe Shaver, Johnny Cash and Kris Kristofferson who preferred to hang on to country’s honky tonk roots.   Over the course of his career, Jennings released a series of top-selling and influential country records.  That list includes Honky Tonk Heroes, Waylon Live, Are You Ready For The Country Lonesome, On’ry and Mean, Good Hearted Woman, and Dreaming My Dreams.  His collaborations with the likes of Nelson, Jessi Colter, the Highwaymen and the Outlaws were critically and commercially acclaimed as well.  Jennings stayed active through the ’90s even as his health began to fail due to diabetes.  On February 13, 2002, the disease claimed Waylon Jennings’ life.  He was 64.

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Honky Tonk Heroes - Waylon Jennings

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Died On This Date (February 3, 1959) Buddy Holly / Rock ‘n Roll Pioneer

Posted by themusicsover on February 3, 2010

Buddy Holly (Born Charles Holley)
September 7, 1936 – February 3, 1959

Buddy Holly was a gifted singer-songwriter who, even though his career lasted just a year and a half, was arguably the most important figure in the birth of rock ‘n roll.  Holly was more of a traditional country artist before being inspired by Elvis Presley and Bill Haley to add elements of rockabilly into his music in 1955.  The following year, he was signed by Decca Records and formed his back-up band, the Crickets.  Over the next eighteen months, Holly released one hit single after another.  They included “Peggy Sue,” “That’ll Be the Day,” and “Oh Boy.”  These songs became a direct influence on the likes of the Beatles, Bob Dylan, the Beach Boys and the Rolling Stones.  Just as Holly’s career was beginning to take off, tragedy struck.  February 3, 1959…it’s been called “the day the music died.”  While on a U.S. mid west tour called the Winter Dance Party, Holly, J.P. “The Big Bopper” Richardson, and Ritchie Valens were on a small Beechcraft airplane en route from Mason City, IA to Moorhead, MN.  The winter weather was taking its toll on the traveling musicians.  Waylon Jennings had originally been slated to fly ahead, but gave up his seat to Richardson at the last minute.  Shortly after take off, the plane carrying rock ‘n roll’s brightest new stars crashed into an empty field killing everyone on board.  Initial reports blamed pilot error on Roger Peterson, but future examinations vindicated him, putting the blame squarely on the bad weather conditions.  Buddy Holly was 22 at the time of his death.

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The Buddy Holly Collection - Buddy Holly

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Died On This Date (February 3, 1959) Ritchie Valens / Rock ‘n Roll Pioneer

Posted by themusicsover on February 3, 2010

Ritchie Valens (Born Richard Valenzuela)
May 13, 1941 – February 3, 1959

The Big Bopper, Ritchie Valens, Buddy Holly

L-R: The Big Bopper, Ritchie Valens, Buddy Holly

Ritchie Valens was one of the founding fathers of rock ‘n roll as well as a pioneer of Chicano rock.  Born in Los Angeles, Valens was raised by parents who embraced the modern America where they now lived, but also kept one foot firmly planted in their Mexican roots.  From an early age, Valens was exposed to Mexican folk music, but also absorbed the sounds of R&B and jump blues he heard on the radio.  After his one and only audition while just 16 years old,  Valens was signed to Bob Keane’s Del-Fi Records in May of 1958.  In just a matter of months, Valens released hits like “Donna,” “Come On, Let’s Go,” and of course, “La Bamba,” which quickly became his signature song.   He would later become an inspiration for the likes of Los Lobos, Carlos Santana and Los Lonely Boys.  But less than a year after he signed his first recording contract, he died in one of pop music’s most famous tragedies.  February 3, 1959…a date that has been called “the day the music died.”  While on a U.S. mid west tour called the Winter Dance Party, Valens, Buddy Holly, and J.P. “The Big Bopper” Richardson were on a small Beechcraft airplane en route from Mason City, IA to Moorhead, MN.  The winter weather was taking its toll on the traveling musicians.  Waylon Jennings had originally been slated to fly ahead, but gave up his seat to Richardson at the last-minute.  Shortly after take off, the plane carrying rock ‘n roll’s brightest new stars crashed into an empty field killing everyone on board.  Initial reports blamed pilot error on Roger Peterson, but future examinations vindicated him, putting the blame squarely on the bad weather conditions.  Ritchie Valens  was just 17 at the time of his death.

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Ritchie Valens

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